Camden History

A Brief History of Camden

Shortly after the foundation of settlement at Sydney Cove in 1789, the colony’s herd of cattle, 4 cows and 2 bulls, escaped into the bush and were lost. The herd had grown to several dozen in number, was rediscovered on the banks of the Nepean River in 1795, Governor Hunter named the area where they were found “The Cowpastures”.

The town of Camden was founded on “The Cowpastures” in 1840 on land formerly owned by John Macarthur and named in honour of Lord Camden who, in 1805, sanctioned the grant of 5000 acres to Macarthur for the raising of the first Merino sheep in Australia.

In addition to sheep, John Macarthur began Australia’s dairy industry in Camden in 1826. Two of his sons took over the estate after his death and introduced viticulture, fruit-growing and wheat during the 1840’s. Until rust ruined the infant wheat industry in 1860, Camden had a thriving flour milling industry.

The nearby Burragorang Valley was first settled in 1832 and became a prosperous farming community. Later, valuable silver and coal deposits were found. In 1938 the valley was flooded to make a water storage lake.

St. John’s Church was built on land given by Sir William and Mr. James Macarthur. The foundation stone was laid in 1840 and the church consecrated in 1849. The rectory was built in 1859. St. Paul’s Church was also built on land donated by the Macarthurs. The first service was held in 1859. Heber Chapel, Cobbitty, was built by Rev. Thomas Hassall, and was dedicated in 1828. With the growth of the congregation, the present church of St. Luke’s was built in 1842. The Rectory was built in 1870.

The Court House was built in 1857, replacing the original wooden lockup. Kirkham Stables were built by John Oxley in 1816. An anchor from Oxley’s ship, placed near the stable, is a monument to honour his early explorations.

The two main recreation reserves in Camden are also gifts to the people from the Macarthurs, Onslow Park was donated in 1882, and Macarthur Park in 1905.

Camden Historical Society and Museum

Camden has a Historical Society and Museum.

Camden Historical Society and Museum is located at:  40 John St Camden.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday
11.00am – 4.00pm
It contains many exhibits, including photos, maps, clothing, uniforms, furniture, guns, coins, musical instruments, badges, pioneer register, and has several booklets with more historical details for sale.
Camden Historical Society Inc.
PO Box 566
Camden. NSW 2570
Phone: (02) 4655 3400
Fax: (02) 46557317

Please visit the website for information:

50 Years Of History of the Camden Rotary Club

You can read about  50 years of the Camden Rotary Club (1947-1997) by clicking here. (PDF file).

50 Years of Camden Rotary Club (1947-1997)